How to Choose the Perfect Bag of Ground Coffee
What makes a cup of coffee perfect? Well, that depends on your taste preferences, and there are a lot of factors that impact the taste of the coffee. If you often find yourself walking down the grocery aisle and not knowing which bag of coffee grounds to grab, you may want to learn a little more about coffee origins then do some trial and error until you find the perfect grounds.
To find your ideal flavor, get to know the following factors that affect how coffee tastes:
- Arabica– Many coffee drinkers claim Arabica beans produce the best brews, and this coffee species is used for the vast majority of coffee production around the world. According to Perfect Daily Grind, “A cup of Arabica coffee is aromatic and flavourful, with notes that can be described as floral, fruity, citrus, earthy, buttery, chocolate, caramel, honey, or sugar.”
- Robusta– Robusta beans, which are native to West Africa, are cheaper to produce than Arabica. They also have a stronger flavor and more caffeine. When it comes to crop maintenance, the Robusta plant itself is less susceptible to pests and diseases than Arabica.
- Sub-varieties– These two distinct coffee species also have sub-varieties with slightly different characteristics and grow across different parts of the world. Varieties include Gesha, Typica, Canephora, and Charrieriana.
Often, you’ll see coffee branded by the geographical origin of the beans. The environment the coffee plant grows in significantly alters the flavor of its beans. For this reason, coffee beans grown in different regions have distinct tastes, even if they come from the same coffee species.
Popular geographic coffee profiles include:
- Brazilian coffee beans may taste a bit chocolatey. They also tend to have a pronounced nutty quality, making them perfect for making espresso.
- Kenyan coffee has a very sweet and savory taste, as it’s grown directly in the sun.
- Central American coffee has a clean and bright taste with fruity, nutty, cocoa, and spicy notes.
- South American coffee includes hints of chocolate, nuts, and caramel with a mellow acidity.
- Ethiopian coffee exudes a syrupy and sweet berry flavor.
- Indonesian coffee is deep and dark with musty, heavy notes similar to dark chocolate.
Coffee cultivators process coffee in one of three ways, each resulting in a distinct flavor.
- Washed/Wet Processed Coffee– Coffee producers use a machine to remove the coffee fruit’s skin but leave the pulp attached to the coffee seeds. Then, they soak the beans in water until the pulp falls off. Only after fermentation are the beans dried. This process results in a more acidic taste.
- Dry/Natural Processed Coffee– In this process, the coffee cherries are dried in a “natural” fashion. Cultivators store the coffee seeds in silos until they’re sent off for hulling to remove the outer layer. Later, products sorted, grade, and bag the beans for selling. Because this process leaves the seeds within the coffee cherry for longer, the beans have a fruitier taste.
- Honey/Pulped Natural Coffee– This process begins with the removal of the coffee cherry skin. Next, the coffee producers leave the coffee beans to dry with the pulp still intact. As a result, the coffee beans have a taste somewhere in between those produced through wet and dry processing.
Roasting involves heating the coffee beans until their internal temperature reaches at least 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the physical and chemical changes caused by the temperature increase impacts the aroma and flavor of the roasted beans. The longer the beans roast, the “darker” they get and the more original flavor they lose.
Sourcing and Sustainability
You may also want to keep in mind the environmental sustainability of different coffee brands while choosing a bag of ground coffee. Many coffee producers adopt sustainable practices while others employ growing and processing techniques that damage the environment.
Furthermore, many sustainable ground coffee brands use single-sourced coffee rather than coffee blends. This not only helps promote sustainability but also produces a more consistent flavor from bag to bag.
The Perfect Final Product
With these flavor-changing factors in mind, you’re ready to try out different combinations of coffee varieties, origins, process styles, and roasts. You should enjoy every last sip of your cup of coffee, so keep trying out different varieties until you find the perfect brew for you.